After years of delays and major construction work to re-sing the 94-year-old Union Station in downtown Toronto, officials have announced that the mammoth project is complete.
“This has been an incredibly challenging revitalization, but today represents a very good day not only for the city of Toronto, but for the entire GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area), because thousands of people come through Union Station on their travels,” said Mayor John Tory told reporters Tuesday.
“It was not an easy task. Throughout the revitalization, the most remarkable thing is that Union Station has been open … We kept the building open, we continued transit, and we completed an incredibly complex renovation of a historic project. ”
GO Transit officially starts running from the new Union Station Bus Terminal
On Tuesday, officials marked the opening of the new GO Transit concert off Bay Street.
During the project, which began in 2009, the crews have divided the work into sections to avoid closing the station. During the project, officials said there were funding issues with contractors as well as supply chain issues that extended the final interior completion date by several years (previously expected to be largely completed in 2017). The final budget of $ 824 million also grew from the original price of $ 640 million.
When asked about the history of the project, one that started before he became mayor, Tory defended the work being done as part of the project.
$ 823 million Revitalization of Toronto Union Station, expansion project nearing completion in 2020
“Ultimately, if you look at the returns, this will pay off in terms of improved transportation, economic activity and so on, I think it will be a good investment. It is a bigger investment than we thought, ”he said.
The highlights of the completed heritage project include tripling the amount of space for GO Transit customers with the new lanes off York and Bay streets, digging under Union Station to create a new level of detail that adds about 160,000 square feet of commercial space, the creation of a new food court, a renovated Via Rail living room and lounge, installation of glass-covered moats along three sides of the building to protect against the weather, new accesses to the underground PATH system and two new bicycle storage areas.
Other major projects at and near Union Station in the last decade included the expansion of TTC’s Union subway station with the creation of a new platform, the opening of the new Union Station GO bus terminal on the corner of Bay Street and Lake Shore Boulevard West and the creation of A new UP Express station to the east
Officials estimate that approximately 500,000 people a day will travel through Union Station after the pandemic.
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Despite the completion of works inside the station below track level, however, there will still be a lot of expansion work in the next decade.
Phil Verster, CEO of Metrolinx – the public agency that runs GO Transit and UP Express, said a lot of work will be done at the platform level to significantly increase capacity.
He said that before the pandemic, there were about 2,000 train journeys across the entire GO Transit network, and many of these trains passed through Union Station. With expansion plans for the regional transit organization to meet increasing demands for riding ships, it is estimated that there will be around 6,000 train journeys after 10 years.
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Verster said over the next eight to 10 years, the platform level needs to be reconfigured and expanded to accommodate the increase in train travel. He also said a new southern driveway and access points should be built.
“Although I am aware of how people feel about how long the work has taken in the Union, I do not want people to be worried that we have more work to do, but we have more work to do, ” he said.
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